In a recent edition of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff discussed his conversations with the booking team after the announced purchase of WCW in 2001, his plans for the cruiserweight division, and much more. You can read his comments below.
Eric Bischoff on his emotions after Fusient Media announced the purchase of WCW in 2001: “It was certainly exciting. No question about that. There was still some raw nerves or rough spots going back to WCW. Of course, a lot of the same people were still there. That was a challenge after everything we had gone through. Many of the people that were such a big part of WCW while we were growing the brand were still there, but there were also a number of people there who were not fans of me. I knew going, under the circumstances, it was going to be real challenging. Regardless of how I felt about people on a personal level, it had to be about the business. There were some issues that I had to put in the closet, leave them alone, and just focus on the business. It required me doing some internal evaluation and really thinking through how I wanted to make that return because it was going to be another really big transition for a large group of people who had been through a lot of transition.”
On his initial conversations with the WCW booking team and wanting to move away from swearing and raunchy content on television: “Once the ball was in motion and the deal was announced…..I was working with Ed Ferrara, as well as Terry Taylor over the phone, laying out a general direction, a general mandate when it came to what we were looking for and what we didn’t want to see. All those conversations were very kayfabe. We let them know for all intents and purposes, for anybody in WCW, including the talent, all they knew was they were hearing it from Ed or Terry and the creative team, not from me because I wasn’t there to deal with it. I didn’t want them dropping by name. We made it clear to them that, going forward, here’s the direction that we’re going to be following. We knew going into this we were probably going to pull the plug and have a restart. I just wanted to get through this due diligence process doing as little damage to the product as possible.”
On his plan to place a bigger emphasis on the cruiserweight division in the WCW restart: “I’ve said this before, and you [Conrad Thompson] called me out for not recognizing the cruiserweights and giving them as much credit at the time as I probably should have. I would admit it then and I’ll admit it now, I certainly didn’t. But even by 2001, I knew that the cruiserweight division was something that was going to have to come back. In a way, it represented some of the best cruiserweight action that we saw when we brought that division to professional wrestling on a consistent basis. It was one of the things I wanted to go back to in a big way. We had so much success with some of the young kids that we had developed.
“Shane Helms, for example, was one of the early ideas of really reaching out to a much younger performer – somebody that brought a different style and obviously a younger demo to the party. Evan Karagias, Billy Kidman, a number of the guys – Chris Kanyon was a big part of that. 3 Count was a bunch of guys Chris found wrestling on an independent over in Marietta, Georgia, one day. We brought those guys together for the sole purpose of helping to feed that creative need we had in the cruiserweight division. We needed more talent than we had in the late 90s when the cruiserweight division was at its peak. That was definitely something that I wanted to put a lot of emphasis on. I wanted to re-establish the cruiserweight division and build upon it.”
If using any of the above quotes, please credit 83 Weeks with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.